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Young arts leaders find futures at Contemporary Craft

The Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip District has expanded its apprentice and internship programs to help create the next generation of arts-management professionals. Even its artist-in-residence this summer is a college student.
 
"A lot of our thinking in bringing in these young people," says Contemporary Craft's Executive Director Janet McCall, "is making sure we stay relevant and connected to the community."
 
Winner of the Judy G. Cheteyan Scholarship this year is Sarah Ceurvorst, a recent undergraduate in psychology and fine arts at Carnegie Mellon University. Begun in 2001, the scholarship allows an arts-management student to learn Contemporary Craft's operations, from fundraising, marketing and how to run the organization's retail store to education, administration and exhibitions, which this year will be "ENOUGH Violence – Artists Speak Out." McCall says Contemporary Craft was reluctant at first to take on this exhibit but decided that "artists have problem-solving abilities the rest of us can learn from, and they are courageous in speaking out."
 
This year's studio apprentice post, launched last year, will be awarded to Samantha Skelton, who just earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at Miami University in Ohio. A year-long full-time position, this apprenticeship was created, McCall says, when the growing number of unusually high-quality Cheteyan scholarship applicants signaled that young people in the arts seemed unable to find jobs in the field. "The goal is to teach them how to build an arts education center," she says: "At the end of the year we hope they will have gained the real-life work experience they need to go on to the next step in their career," or in their education. They will also have a chance to develop their own art through time using the Contemporary Craft studio and working closely with visiting artists.
 
The newly created year-long exhibitions apprentice position, funded by the Fine Foundation, will give the recipient hands-on, behind-the-scenes experience in running an exhibition: creating the concept, identifying artists, choosing the artwork, developing the catalog material, doing the installation and de-installation, and working with artists on any lectures. It was awarded to Natalie Sweet, who has previously interned with the Andy Warhol Museum and Concept Gallery.
 
Finally, this year's artist in residence is Jennifer Moss, an MFA student in fiber arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design. "The artist in residence is a little bit of a surprise for us," says McCall, noting that this position usually goes to a well-established artist. "But we didn't want to let go of her, because we were very impressed with this very young fiber artist." Moss will be seen working on her art, which runs from wearable pieces to large-scale installations, everywhere from Strip sidewalks to the inside of Contemporary Craft's building, including a site-specific fiber piece on its walls in conjunction with the 2013 Fiberart International exhibit there.
 
"It should be a very fun and dramatic piece that will remain here," says McCall. "I think [Moss] represents where our organization wants to go."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Janet McCall, Society for Contemporary Craft
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